Sunday, June 18, 2006

Israel in a Bus

On Thursday I left work early grabbed my goodies I bought for the trip and headed to the central bus station in Tel Aviv to catch my bus to Eilat. We had a reservation booked for 10.15 at the Ranch House (meat meat meat) and the bus driver had promised us that we would arrive by 10, so we were sat on the bus holding our empty bellies, salivating at the thought of some decent steak.

Riding on a bus in Israel is often an interesting experience. Unlike the regular trips I would take up and down the M1 on the National Express (oh memories of Eli and the Cranberries! Good times!), the busses in Israel do not adhere to maximum capacity seating. On the National Express you cannot be stood up on the bus longer than it takes you to run to the loo, hold your breath from the stench and run back to your seat without some wide assed bus attendant telling you to remain seated. That is unless your bus had a trolley dolly which the Leeds London bus generally did, who would then get on his mike and say in his campest tone, “Bottoms on seats please ladies.” On the Israeli Egged busses however there is no such thing. Space is space and if the bus driver can fit another body in, even if it means putting small children up with the hand-luggage, then he will.

We arrived at the bus stop 5 minutes before it was due to leave. We got on, found some seats and despite the fact that I was wishing I had time for my final last minute wee, I was eager to get on the road and on to meat heaven. But the driver was having issues with passengers who just were not ready to get on the bus. A young girl was arguing with the driver as she really wanted to get on the bus, but her friends who she was travelling with had disappeared. An old man on the bus was unimpressed and was shouting at the driver to get his ass and his bus in first gear and get a move on! So to get the old man to shut up the driver drove around the bus station only to drive back to the original bus stop and wait for the girl again. By this point we were 20 minutes late and I was worried about the reservation, however the commotion on the bus was enough to keep me entertained.

Old Man: This is unacceptable. We should have left 20 minutes ago. Move this bus or I will move it for you!
The Peacemaker: Sit down old man, you may break a hip. We will be leaving soon
Old Man: If I break my hip I will sue!
Bus Driver: What is the rush we will be leaving in 5 minutes
Random Man: Yeah work in Sheshbesh!

The whole of the bus erupted into laughter and the old man jumped out of his seat to punch the driver followed by the random guy who made the sheshbesh comment (an accurate one I think). The peacemaker stood in the old man’s way to protect the driver. Meanwhile the young girl turned up with 3 of her friends, two old couples who had been getting food for the journey and four French tourists, who the entire bus wished we had left behind.

Finally on the road the entertainment did not end there. The old man was still screaming for his pound of flesh, the French were busy trying to invade everybody else’s seats, while one of the old couples that arrived last minute was arguing about seating numbers… what seating numbers? As it turns out the old people had a point. Half way through the journey a guy gets on the bus and informs me that he had booked my seat.

Me: But we booked the seat
Guy: No… this is my seat, look, here is the number
Me: What number? There are no seat numbers!

Well I felt really stupid when he reached between my legs, and just as I am about to slap him, he shows me that my leg that I was resting against the chair in front, was in fact concealing the seat numbers. He was right and I was wrong… oh well no chance he was going to let me share he DVD player now! So after a lot of musical chairs we were finally in our designated seats and half way to Eilat… and my bladder was beating me up for not having my last minute wee!

Anyway, to make a long story short (or shorter) we arrived in Eilat too late for the booking, but the restaurant kindly let us come in late meaning that we were the last people eating in the restaurant except for two famous Israeli football players (I have no idea who they are) who they had kept the restaurant open especially for. After consuming a baby cow we took the rest of the weekend to recover, sit by the pool, get pedicures, and soak up the sun. The weekend felt like a week! It was shear bliss!

So I am back from the mini Las Vegas of Israel, a little more tanned and a little heavier from all the food we ate there. A friend of mine once went away with her father to Florida and returned looking like an Umpa Lumpa (from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) from all the junk food and sun she consumed there. I look at myself sideways and to be honest I wouldn’t quite say Umpa Lumpa as I’m not really short enough, but I am a browner and pregnant looking me at the moment! And with a wedding around the corner I am heading back to the gym to get rid of the baby weight… well when you eat a baby cow what do you expect!


elif said...

ahhh funny how you see the national express coach service through rose tinted glasses- how about the time the air con didnt' work on like the hottest day ever or the time (k you weren't there) the toilet broke down. In their defense at least they do have toilets (in or out of order)and a trolley dolly with kit kats and tuna sandwiches a plenty

channahboo said...

No els I try to only remember the good things about the National Express... like that yummy guy who heard me saying that I wanted to learn to play the guitar and offered to teach me... I kept his card for years too chicken to call him!! ha ha ha

"Do you have to let it linger... la la la"

Anonymous said...

MAn oh man, that is freakin' hilarious! I would have liked to read more about the journey though, there's enough shit hear to make half a movie!